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Toyota Approaching Vehicle Audible System – Click above to watch the video after the break

After years and years of doing everything in their power to make cars as quiet as possible, it seems somewhat backwards that we're now talking about adding external speakers to hybrids in order to make them... louder. But that's the current reality, and Toyota, the undisputed worldwide leader in hybrid vehicles, is leading the way in Japan with its Prius hatchback.

For about $150, Toyota will equip the Japanese Prius with a Approaching Vehicle Audible System. According to the automaker, the technology is "designed to meet new Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism guidelines for hybrid and other near-silent vehicles." Expect the system to extend to other hybrids from Toyota and probably to countries outside Japan in time.

Anyone interested in making their third-gen Prius sound like a prop from Close Encounters of the Third Kind are encouraged to watch the Japanese-market video after the break. We're not going to cast a vote quite yet as to whether or not these systems are a good or bad idea, but we will say this: If we heard that noise coming at us from behind, you can bet we'd be rushing to get out of the way...

[Source: Toyota via Prius Chat]

Show full PR text

TMC to Sell Approaching Vehicle Audible System for 'Prius'

Toyota City, Japan, August 24, 2010-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces that, in line with its efforts to ensure an ever-safer traffic environment, it will begin sales on August 30 of an onboard device designed to alert pedestrians and others audibly to the presence of a quiet vehicle, such as a gasoline-electric hybrid. The device will be available nationwide through authorized Toyota dealers and Toyota genuine parts & accessories distributors for retrofitting on the third-generation "Prius" gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle.

The onboard device automatically emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor when the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25 km/h. The sound-aimed to alert but not annoy-rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle's speed, thus helping indicate the vehicle's proximity and movement.

The device is designed to meet new Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism guidelines* for hybrid and other near-silent vehicles.

TMC also plans other versions of the device for use in gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles as well as fuel-cell hybrid vehicles planned for launch.

Onboard approaching vehicle audible system details
Price: 12,600 yen (Includes consumption tax; does not include installation charge or other incidental fees)

Compatible vehicle models: Third-generation Prius

Function: Emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor to alert pedestrians and others to the presence of a quiet vehicle.

*Issued in January 2010 and based on assessments from the Committee for the Consideration of Countermeasures Regarding Quiet Hybrid and Other Vehicles, in which TMC participated as a member of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. The committee began assessing possible countermeasures in July 2009, after hearing concerns of drivers and other people about gasoline-electric hybrids and electric vehicles operating in near silence.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Make it a V8 and you might be onto something...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Get 1 playing card.

        Get 1 clothespin.

        Attach playing card to wheel spoke using clothespin.

        Problem solved.
        • 4 Years Ago
        or a steam locomotive. since we're celebrating the crude and the primitive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i can't wait for top gear guys to comment on this invention. lol
      • 4 Years Ago
      Come on Japan! You have some of the best audio effects people on the planet, and that wimpy noise is the best you could come up with?

      Dammit. Hire these people to make the sound. http://www.fizz-sound.co.jp/

      • 4 Years Ago
      if i were the engineer i'd just put on a noisier motor on the car. this would make the car cheaper and has less gadgets of possible breakdown. problem solved.

      anyone wanna hire me for toyota?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chevy Volt should adopt this system.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is for individuals with low or no vision (the blind). They use audible cues from cars to help them get around, and silent cars are dangerous for them. Whether or not it will be effective on a street corner with other noises remains to be seen.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Yeah, those cars are "virtually silent" on the inside, within the sound insulated passenger cabin - but the outside can still be louder than normal, especially when taking advantage of the powerful engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want my car to sound like the vehicle in the Jetsons.... That would be AWESOME.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The space-age sound was really annoying (maybe it's just me), and at 55db it seems to be a bit loud. Since all of us, including those with sight impairment, are used to hearing the sound of a regular gasoline-powered car, why didn't Toyota recreate that particular sound for the Prius?

      A regular gas engine makes a sound that has less high frequency and thus (IMHO) is less annoying than this "space-age" whine. There's enough noise pollution as it is, I don't see why there has to be yet another annoying sound thrown into the fray.
      • 4 Years Ago
      just use the horn, it'll save you $150 bucks!
      • 4 Years Ago
      This reminds me of something i saw a couple weeks ago while i was driving home. A blind man with his feeler cane decided to cross the street, but he was a good 50' or so from the crosswalk. I am not sure if he was trying to jaywalk or he thought he reached the crosswalk, but he walked out and almost got run over by a metro bus. The bus had to do an emergency stop and the bus driver was extremely agited chewing out the blind person for walking out. So from this observation, i dont really think that the sound a vehicle makes is the problem here because (1) its pretty loud in the city as it is and (2) if they cant hear a bus coming, i dont think these speakers will do much...
      • 4 Years Ago

      So someone help me out here. Hybrid cars are dangerous because people don't hear them coming until it's too late. Such as the blind while crossing the street, is that it? So my question is - how many people have been run over by these silent cars so far? Thousands? Hundreds? Dozens? One? I know that just because I haven't seen the news report - I'm not saying that it didn't happen ... but I haven't seen any report of the carnage that hybrid cars have laid waste.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I can think of a couple of reasons why such incidents are not reported that often. One may be that it does not happen often. Another reason may be that the media and Hollywood keeps pushing them as "green", and therefore the "in-thing".
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can vouch that on one occasion I started to cross a street and I had to stop suddenly as I saw in the corner of my eye a prius. It's engine was not on at the time and the sounds of the tires made no more noise than someone walking.

      You don't know how much you rely on your hearing when dealing with cars and traffic as a pedestrian until you are in this situation.
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